Jackie Levin, a veteran producer at NBC News’ “Today” who in recent years steered the show’s 9 a.m. hour through tumult and new triumph, is leaving the company.
Levin said in an email sent to staffers Tuesday that she had elected to take a buyout “and begin another phase of my career.” The New York Post’s Page Six previously reported Levin would leave NBC. She has worked at NBC News for 26 years.
“It is hard to put into words everything I am feeling right now, but please know I am humbled by all the good friends I have made over the years here and so gratified by the body of work I leave behind,” Levin said in the memo.
She has been known since the fall of 2017 as the executive producer of the program’s “second” show, a looser 9 a.m. hour that relies less on the morning’s breaking news and more on stories of inspiration. Levin took the helm as the behind-the-scenes leader of the hour when Megyn Kelly debuted as its host, setting off a much-scrutinized tenure that ended when the anchor and NBC parted ways after a round of controversy. But Levin stayed with the program, building a new show without much time for planning after NBC abruptly took Kelly off the air. Levin helped build a new hour with co-anchors Al Roker, Sheinelle Jones, Craig Melvin and Dylan Dreyer.
“It was done very quickly, and without much notice,” Levin told Variety of the show’s quick change in an interview last year. After launching that program on the fly, she sad at the time, “I don’t know that I’m afraid of anything anymore.”
But she has done much more during her tenure than consider what viewers might want to watch at 9 a.m. Levin is the force behind the three “Rokerthons,” or mammoth efforts by “Today’s” Al Roker to set new benchmarks for The Guiness Book of World Records. In one, Roker set a record for the fastest time to report a weather forecast in all 50 US states (seven days and 18 minutes), and in another, he delivered 34 hours of uninterrupted live weather reports. As a senior producer at “Today” since 2005, Levin has supervised special projects as well as books coverage.
Levin joined NBC News in 1994 as a producer for “Dateline NBC,” after working at ABC News as a producer with “Good Morning America” and then “Primetime Live,” anchored at the time by Diane Sawyer and Sam Donaldson.
“I have counseled numerous producers over the years about their own careers so it’s fitting I follow my own advice – complacency is a death sentence; settle for nothing less than the absolute best; never expect anything more from others than what you’d expect from yourself; always evolve as a person and as a leader; work hard and then work even harder, and always demand equal pay for your hard work; you and only you define who you are as a person; and never be afraid to speak up and speak out for what is right but especially for what is wrong,” Levin said in her memo to staff.
She leaves as NBCUniversal is in the midst of cutting staff as it grapples with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. NBC News did not immediately name another producer to oversee the 9 a.m. hour of “Today.”